Great Expectations | Renata Poljak


Great Expectations
Film, 17 min, 2005

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Man and architecture speak the same language. Human and architectural violence are the result of the same virus infection: “Great Expectations”.

“Great Expectations” traces the transformations of Croatian architecture during the past decade and the examples of architectural violence. At the same time, the film reconstructs the development and transformation of violence through three generations of the same patriarchal family line in traditional Dalmatian surroundings, filled with the iconography of the new Croatian transitional capitalism, wild urbanism but also post-war social traumas.

“…The starting points of the latest project by Renata Poljak entitled “The View” are only seemingly incompatible. Part of the project refers to an incident that happened on the night of 6 December 2003 in Dugopolje when a group of Hajduk fans ambushed a car with Zagreb licence plates setting fire to it together with the people inside. The second part was inspired by the “magnificent view” of the rooftop of the neighbouring building that has recently become part of the scenery from the artist’s family home terrace. Reflecting on people’s inconsiderateness and about the birth of a hybrid pseudourban context, the artist has found connections and interlacing of family relations, the architectural urbicide that is taking place in Split and its surroundings, and the violence at football stadiums which finally led to the incident reported in the “crime section” of the daily newspaper. These reflections are brought to life through a 17-minute film entitled “Great Expectations”, which was made according to the artist’s own screenplay, and based on a series of photographs gathered together under the mutual title “Croatia, Summer 2004”.

The author notes ten years of observing architectural arrogance: “I noticed how following the war violence, a new type of mentality was born. Violence, once ‘justified’ during the war, took on a new form in architecture. A mentality saturated with tourism, greed, unscrupulousness and denial of all tradition is the continuation of the violence and reflection of the new taste that has appeared in post-war Croatia, and which is directly mirrored in the houses of the newly rich.”

Through the prism of her own family’s story, Renata Poljak warns of the creation of a new morality that is becoming collectively accepted.”

Excerpt from the catalogue essay by Leila Topic

Great Expectations — Artist statement (pdf): english • croatian

Camera Lucida (Paris) and Croatian Film Club’s Association (Zagreb) supported by The Centre National de la Cinématographie (CNC), The Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia, with the contribution of France2.
Director of Photography: Jean-Louis Vialard A.F.C.

2006 “Great Expectations”, Golden Black Box Short Award at the Balkan Black Box Festival, Berlin
2006 “Great Expectations”, 2nd Award at the 7th Days of Film, Mediterranean Festival of Documentary Films, Siroki Brijeg, Bosnia and Herzegovina
2006 “Great Expectations”, Best film in national competition at the 4th Tabor film festival, Croatia

— Palais de tokyo, press (pdf)